Why the NewPlayFest? There is no shortage of works, especially by unpublished playwrights. But how do theatres find the time to read them and cull out the ones their communities will enjoy? Many theatres have new play contests, but few produce the winning scripts and talk to other theatres about them. Yet a script is not likely to be published unless it is produced and creates a buzz-- and it is not likely to reach future audiences if it is not published. So how do playwrights get their work produced and published?
The answer is AACT NewPlayFest, a national new play festival that takes place over a two-year period. Unlike AACTFest, however, productions don’t have to travel. Instead, selected theatres produce the winning scripts in their local communities and AACT spreads the word with nationwide promotion, and winning plays are published in an anthology by Dramatic Publishing Company.
Selecting the Winners
Scripts that make it to the final round will be submitted to the Producing Theatres, which will select the winning shows to produce.
AACT works with the Producing Theatres to compile a festival calendar and a promotional plan, including social media, to encourage attendance at the productions and consideration of the winning plays for production by other theatres.
The theatre that produces a new play often contributes to the future development of the piece. It illustrates to the playwright what works or doesn’t work. The interpretations of the director and the actors may reveal insights into the work that even the playwright didn’t know were there. A first production allows the playwright to discover what needs to be rewritten to make it more effective. In addition, the winning plays are published in an anthology by Dramatic Publishing Company.
AACT NewPlayFest is made possible in part by a grant from
the Jack K. Ayre and Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation
Jack K. Ayre celebrated his 90th birthday before passing away in December 2011. At his birthday party, he sang with a barbershop quartet – one of his favorite activities – and celebrated with his cousin and lifelong friend, Frank Ayre Lee. Though as adults they lived on opposite sides of the country, the cousins kept in touch through letters that displayed a love for the written word and an irreverent sense of humor. Jack had participated in theatre productions at Drew University in New Jersey and at a community theatre in Connecticut in his younger years, and continued that interest when he moved to California. Mr. Lee was also an avid aficionado of theatre, and had dabbled in playwriting, adapting Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book for a children’s theatre production, and penning McSteg, a tongue-in-cheek discourse, ribbing his cousin Jack and based on a scene in Shakespeare’s MacBeth. The Jack K. Ayre and Frank Ayre Lee Theatre Foundation was created by the children of Frank Ayre Lee as a tribute to their father, who passed away in August 2012, and a legacy for the creative endeavors of Jack, who was an advertising executive and public relations director. The family is pleased to honor both men through a lasting legacy promoting new works for theatre through AACT NewPlayFest.